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How to Constrain the Freedom to Choose the Best of all Possible Worlds During an Era of Uninterrupted Progress
Over the past couple days, I have dragged some of my closest friends and relatives — in some cases almost kicking and screaming (though perhaps not the very dearest ones) — and pretty much forced them to read my previous blog post… and also to discuss it with me. One result of all this mental anguish is this current blog post I am writing — but please: If you haven’t read the previous one yet, then you really must first read it (why not do that now?).
I will simply assume you have already read it (which is quite certainly not very hard to do),
I thought I had been able to simplify away so many treacherous problems with one of my favorite quasi-progressive ideas (especially those that go beyond the status of mere typographical errors) — but it still seems as though I was mistaken and hitherto remain uninfallible. 😐
My greatest error seems to be my unpardonable doubt that the current world is indeed the best of all possible worlds — as the incessant toil of legislators, lawmakers and the like do not apparently lead rational people to disbelief in current laws but rather to a steadfast doctrine of the present situation above and beyond anything that has ever come before (since it is now undeniably long gone since at least yesterday). My disbelief in the present state is almost universally scoffed at as underdeveloped, a sort of “heathen savage” world view… and awe and amazement over the fact that anyone would ever question the present state of progress as the undeniable best of all possible worlds.
Never for a moment do any of my interlocutors pause to wonder why legislators and lawmakers alike do not stop and retire once they have achieved perfection.
“No!” they say: “We must limit the ability of free people to live in the past.” (or something more or less equivalent and/or along those lines). For example: No one must be so free as to choose slavery… and this is unfortunately not merely paradoxical nonsense (note that every currently living American today enjoys fruits produced from the hands of slave labor, whether that be some technological product, the clothing they wear on a daily basis or the White House which was built by slaves for the esteemed American President to reside in).
Well, in order to keep a quickly lengthening story at least somewhat short, I have scrambled to find a stopgap — and this is what I have come up with: First, no one may choose a system of laws from any time other then when they have already been alive (and perhaps also living under those laws). Second, no person may ever be subjected to laws they have not at some point previously lived under (besides that sacrosanct case in which lawmakers / legislators / whatever make new [+ “improved”] laws). I hope these two added caveats might prevent and/or stop many if not even most of the loud, annoying objections from people who protest too much.
I have long since been a big fan of Edmund Burke — the “father of modern conservatism”…. He was probably far ahead of his time, but for today, I feel he is no longer far ahead of our time. What is more: I think I myself have figured out a way to improve on his ideas about conservatism.
These ideas I have, I started having them during my college years… but I have just now added one significant extra twist which make them far simpler to implement.
The basic idea is this: People should be able to live out their lives under a single system of laws and not have to worry about whether laws might change at some point in time. The main reason why this is problematic is that lawyers (or legislators, or whatever) keep changing the laws … and therefore law (remember how Tom Paine wrote that “in America, law is king”?) is a constantly moving target. The problems, therefore, might get extremely complicated if people are born at different times… as in the meantime (between their dates of birth) some of the laws may very well have changed.
The “extra twist” I came up with today is this: There should be different levels of fixedness — I think perhaps four of them. The law we have today — basically: fully “variable” law (and by that I mean the laws could change at any time) — could be called “free” law (because we don’t have to “pay” anything for it — at least not apparently so). This is what everyone has today (whether they like it or not).
To this I would add 3 levels of more “fixed” laws: 1. uniquely fixed law; 2. strictly fixed law; and 3. affordable fixed law. Affordable fixed law (a sort of privilege) could be bought at a rather affordable rate, and it would fix the law a person is subjected to to the law of a specific calendar year. Strictly fixed law would fix it to a particular date. Uniquely fixed law would go above and beyond that and fix it to a unique point in time. This reasoning adds some significant ideas. First, moving from free law to affordable fixed law to strictly fixed law to uniquely fixed law, one would advance from lesser privileges to higher privileges — in other words: the higher privileges would trump the lower levels of fixedness. Also, this would introduce something like market forces into the system — the price of affordable fixed vs. strictly fixed vs. uniquely fixed law could be set at the beginning, but might be allowed to rise and fall with the sentiments of how much people wish to invest in having such a level of reliability.
That is the basic idea, redux. I will leave it at that for now — at least I have finally written it down and posted it for all the world to see.
We are constantly altering the forms we have inherited from previous generations, and these changes are signs of life and vitality. Indeed: The things that don’t change, the forms that rigidify, come to look to us like death — and we destroy them.
— Robert Greene (“48 Laws of Power”)